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Wosene Worke Kosrof

Born in Ethiopia in 1950, Wosene (his professional name) is best known for his inventive renderings of the Amharic script, and as a master translator of the human experience. He is the first Ethiopian-born painter to use the script forms in contemporary art, inspired by the rich Ethiopian iconography and written traditions in which word and image are deployed to create aesthetically compelling objects of devotion and healing. In Wosene’s paintings, however, the words themselves become images and icons, beyond any literal meanings. This slippage between the visual and literal dimensions of script amounts to a kind of epiphany that reveals the aesthetic, sensory, even kinetic potential of the written word.

Since his student years in Addis Ababa, American jazz has asserted a significant influence on his work. Like jazz music, the script provides a repertoire of dense, yet supple, elements that lend themselves well to visual improvisation. Jazz also shapes his sense of composition: like improvisational music, the language symbols can be juxtaposed on canvas in nonverbal ‘word-plays’ that create a visual language of form and color, rhythm and movement.

Academically trained as a fine artist with a BFA from the School of Fine arts in Addis Ababa and an MFA from Howard University in Washington, DC, Wosene has gained critical attention on the international art scene with works in the permanent collections of the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art; Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, VA; National Museum of Ethiopia; The Newark Museum, NJ; Neuberger Museum of Art, Purchase, NY; Indianapolis Museum of Art, IN; North Carolina Museum of Art, Raleigh; Keith Haring Museum of Japan, Kobuchizawa;Volkerkunde Museum in Switzerland, to name a few, and in many international private collections.

Exhibitions

EDUCATION

1980                            MFA, painting and drawing, Howard University, Washington, DC;

Ford Foundation Talent Scholar

1972                            BFA, painting, drawing, design, School of Fine Arts, Addis Ababa,  Ethiopia.  Graduated with distinction

STUDIO ARTS EXPERIENCE

1972 – present              Professional studio artist: painting and sculpture

2000 – 2001                 Artist-in-residence, Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, Sweet Briar, VA

1996                            Artist-in-residence, Rockefeller Foundation, Bellagio, Italy

1984                            Artist-in-residence, Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, Sweet Briar, VA

 

SELECTED COLLECTIONS

Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, VA

National Museum of Ethiopia, Addis Ababa

Smithsonian National Museum of African Art, Washington, DC

The Newark Museum, Newark, NJ

Neuberger Museum of Art, Purchase, NY

Indianapolis Museum of Art, Indianapolis, IN

Birmingham Museum of Art, Birmingham, AL

Fowler Museum at UCLA, Los Angeles, CA

Samuel P. Harn Museum, University of FL, Gainesville

Krannert Art Museum, University of Illinois, Champaign/Urbana

Fleming Museum, Burlington, VT

U.S. Embassy, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Völkerkunde Museum, Zürich, Switzerland

Peter Gray Museum, Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

United Nations, New York, NY

Rockefeller Collection, New York, NY

Library of Congress, Washington, DC

Zora Neale Hurston Museum, Orlando, FL

City of Addis Ababa Museum, Ethiopia

Bank of Hanover, Hanover, NH

Alza Corporation, Mountain View, CA

Tobias Management LLC, New York, NY

Highland Hospital, Oakland, CA

University of CA Medical Center, Davis, CA

Chikamori Hospital, Kochi, Japan

Howard University, Washington, DC

Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL

University of Maryland, Eastern Shore, MD

Paul Herzog and Jolene Tritt Collection, Burlington, VT

* and many international private collections

 

SELECTED SOLO EXHIBITIONS

2021                            Cromwell Place, London, UK

2019                            Paul Mahder Gallery, Healdsburg, CA

2018                            Art Dubai, UAE

2017                            Paul Mahder Gallery, Healdsburg, CA

2016                            Paul Mahder Gallery, Healdsburg, CA

Keith Haring Museum of Japan in Kobuchizawa Japan

2015                            Gallery of Fine Art (GAFRA), London, UK

Hoshigaoka Gallery, Kochi, Japan

2014                            The Loft Galeria, Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

Majlis Gallery, Dubai, UAE

Terra Firma Gallery, Sonoma, CA

2013                            Gallery of African Art, London, UK

2012                            Skoto Gallery, New York, NY

Hoshigaoka Gallery, Kochi, Japan

2011                            Fleming Museum, University of Vermont, Burlington, VT

(Exhibition from the collection of Paul Herzog and Jolene Tritt)

Bekris Gallery, San Francisco, CA

2010                            National Museum of Ethiopia, Addis Ababa

(Exhibition of paintings and sculptures)

2009                            Skoto Gallery, New York, NY

Madelyn Jordon Fine Arts, Scarsdale, NY

2008                            Stella Jones Gallery, New Orleans, LA

Contemporary African Arts, New York, NY

2007                            Addis Art, Los Angeles, CA

Guilford College Gallery of Art, Greensboro, NC

2006                            Mexican Heritage Museum, San Jose, CA

Skoto Gallery, New York, NY

2005                            St. George Gallery, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

2004                            The Newark Museum, Newark, NJ

Skoto Gallery, New York, NY

Hoshigaoka Gallery, Kochi, Japan

2003                            Neuberger Museum of Art, Purchase, NY

Galeria Botello, San Juan, PR

2002                            Skoto Gallery, New York, NY

Hoshigaoka Gallery, Kochi, Japan

Museum of Antigua/Barbuda, St. Johns, Antigua, West Indies

2001                            Bomani Gallery, San Francisco, CA

Folkens Museum, Etnografiska, Stockholm, Sweden

2000                            Parish Gallery, Washington, DC

1999                            Spirits in Stone Gallery, Sausalito, CA

1997                            Hoshigaoka Gallery, Kochi, Japan

1996                            St. George Gallery, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

1995                            Bomani Gallery, San Francisco, CA

1994                            Parish Gallery, Washington, DC

1993                            Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL

1991                            Woodstock Gallery, Woodstock, VT

1990                            Cottonbrook Gallery, Stowe, VT

1988                            The World Bank, Washington, DC

AVA Gallery, Hanover, VT

1987                            Howard University Gallery of Art, Washington, DC

1986                            United Nations, New York, NY

1984                            Albert Gordon Art Gallery, New York, NY

1980                            Howard University Gallery of Art, Washington, DC

1974                            Belvedere Gallery, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

 

SELECTED EXHIBITION REVIEWS IN:

The New York Times

Washington Post

San Francisco Chronicle

Winston-Salem Journal

Philadelphia Tribune

San Jose Mercury News

El Nuevo Dia (San Juan, PR)

African Arts

ArtWeek Magazine

Artist Profile: Wosene Worke Kosrof